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Friday, April 30, 2010

America Soars, Right into its Pocketbook

America Soars-Right Into Its Pocketbook

Throughout presidential candidate Obama’s campaign, he promised change that would send America to soaring heights while spreading wealth to every backwoods niche in the country.

And he has done some of that, especially the soaring business. I figured those of you who voted for his pie-in-the-sky dreams might care to see the results of his first sixteen months of soaring.

A few days back, the House Ways and Means Committee released the list of the $670,341 billion in tax increases that he has already signed into law. These taxes total a whopping $2,100 increase for each man, woman, and child in America. Now, that’s what I call soaring.

Remember the ‘no tax increase for incomes under $250,000?” According to Texas Insider, he’s violated that promise fourteen times. But, hey, who’s counting? Keep in mind, this information is not from a liberal or conservative source, but the House Ways and Means Committee. (how truthful they are, you decide)

Under his one-party control regime, he will level new taxes upon individuals and employers who do not buy government-approved insurance; stick a 40% tax on high cost health plans, but exempt union members; increase Medicare taxes on all income; levy a 3.8% tax increase on investments; lower medical deductions by 2.5%; 10% tax increase on UV tanning services; $2,500 annual cap on Flexible Spending contributions; excise taxes on brand name pharmaceuticals as well as medical devices including wheelchairs; and a double penalty for non qualified HAS distributions.

Oh, yeah, I forgot-tax increase on tobacco—naturally.

Also this year, there are several more increases scheduled to kick in:
1. Alternative Minimum Tax will decrease from $46,700 to $33,750 for single filers and from $70,950 to $45,000 for married couples filing jointly
2. No deductions for state and local general sales taxes on federal income tax return.
3. Businesses will not be able to claim a tax credit for research, experimentation, and development.
4. Taxpayers will not be able to claim a deduction for qualified tuition and expenses.
5. School teachers will no longer be able to write off books, supplies and other equipment
6. Five year depreciation of farm machinery and equipment will expire.
7. Donations of books to public schools will no longer be eligible for an enhanced charitable deduction.

How’s all of that for change? Hold on, I ain’t done yet. In 2011:
1. 35% income tax bracket increases to 39.6.
2. 33% bracket will increase to 36%
3. 28% bracket will increase to 31%
4. 25% bracket will increase to 28%
5. 10% and 15% brackets will coalesce at 15%
6. child tax credit will decrease from $1,000 to $500
7. marriage penalty tax will be restored, charging married couples a higher tax rate than individuals on the same total income
8. the “death” tax returns with a 55% maximum rate and a $1 million exemption, after years of decreasing “death” tax rates
9. dependent care tax credit will decrease from $3,000 to $2,400
10. adoption tax credit from $13,170 to $5,000

But that isn’t all. The following tax credits will also expire: energy efficient home appliance; hiring unemployed veterans and disconnected youth; Work Opportunity Tax Credit; the $400 ‘Making Work Pay” credit; electric drive motorcycles, three-wheeled vehicles, low-speed vehicles, and plug-in electric vehicles, most of which are utilized by the handicapped.

Somehow, I don’t believe this is the change the majority wanted. Do you?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Past is Over

The Past is Over!

Quick, who said, “I’m not going to fire a two million dollar missile at an empty ten dollar tent and hit a camel in the butt.”?

If you answered former president, George Bush, you hit the answer right on the butt.

Old George. He caught, and still does, a lot of flak, some of which he brought on himself, but not all. Of course, if you listen to the present administration, old George is even responsible for the earthquakes of recent months as well as the volcano eruption in Iceland.

I voted for George, for governor and president. I didn’t approve of all his decisions, just as I do not approve of the current president’s. On the other hand, while I’m not the greenest pickle in the barrel, I’ve learned enough to realize that the human animal has a propensity for criticizing decisions without the benefit of pertinent knowledge. We’re all superb sidewalk superintendents.

No one can claim George is a polished speaker. He often mispronounces words, uses malapropisms, butchers syntax, and in general, garbles the point of his message. He is an English teacher’s worst nightmare.

I mean, after all, who else but George would say “I think we will agree, the past is over.”

Duh! If it is past, it is over.

In researching George, I ran across the following poem of his verbal gaffes on several sites. I got a good laugh from it. You will too. I could not find who composed the poem, but whoever they are, my thanks.

Make the Pie Higher

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen and uncertainty
And potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the internet become more few?
How many hands have I shaked?

They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope

Where our wings take dream.
Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!

Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher!
Make the pie higher!

Oh, and there are many, many more gaffes. And yes, he certainly lacks President Obama’s eloquence. I can’t remember very many presidents who were as articulate, but George is a good and decent human being-and in today’s world, that is more important than eloquence.

Presidents always catch the blame even if they were not responsible for the situation. Of course, they often exacerbate the problem by decisions they make in regard to it.

People around the world took potshots at Harry Truman for doing what he had to do to end the war. Every president is in the same boat.

Clinton will never live down “I did not have sex with that woman.” H.W. Bush will always be remembered for “Watch my lips. No knew taxes.” Dan Quayle (though not a president, fortunately) will always suffer the embarrassment of being unable to spell potato. And who will every forget Lloyd Bentsen’s cutting reply to Quayle, “You’re no Jack Kennedy.”?

So, our forty-third president is not a gifted speaker. I’ll always believe he did his best just as I believe our current president is following ‘the wings of his dream.”

By the way, Nostradamus’ 1555 prediction, “In the millennium, the village idiot will become leader in the home of greatest power,” was not referring to poor old George, though many swear it was.

Actually, old Nostradamus was referring to Harry Reid.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Eighteen-Minute Battle

The Eighteen-Minute Battle

April 21, one hundred and seventy-four years ago, the Texian Army defeated Santa Anna at San Jacinto in a historic fight that gained independence for the rebels and ultimately set the stage for statehood.

There have been an untold number of stories of the battle in movies, TV, and novels. Some are so filled with fabrication that I’m surprised the authors even set the story in Texas. Others are fairly close to what seems to be the general consensus of what took place.

After the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence, Houston left New Washington for Gonzales to take charge of the troops and go to Travis’ aid. There, on March 12, he learned of the fall of the Alamo.

Settlers fled east, but Houston and his small army remained to stave off Santa Anna.
Houston pulled up at the Colorado, waiting anxiously for Fannin to join him as ordered, but Fannin did not follow the orders. He was captured. On Palm Sunday, he and his men were executed.

On March 23 (some say the 25th), Houston learned of Fannin’s capture. On Palm Sunday, the 27th, Santa Anna executed and burned Fannin and his men. The four hundred men Houston counted on had vanished. The next day, he moved his army east once again, despite his men’s griping and complaining. They wanted to fight, not retreat.

For two weeks they camped on the Brazos until a mysterious message came to Houston that Santa Anna was to his south, heading his way. Houston moved out.

At this point, Santa Anna began making a series of mistakes that sealed his defeat. Hearing that President Burnet and his staff had moved to Harrisburg, he made the very mistake Wellington had prodded Napoleon into making. As Houston had gambled, the small dictator split his force three ways, and with 700 men, moved south.

Santa Anna pushed his men hard until 9:00 p.m., camped without water, pulled out early next morning, and hurried on. Anxious to reach Harrisburg, he took only a few men and raced ahead, riding into the village at midnight, but Burnet had moved his cabinet to Galveston.

He then received word came that Houston was heading for the Trinity. Santa Anna saw another chance to end the revolution in one stroke, ambush Houston at Lynch’s Ferry.
At the head of his 700 men, he raced to Lynch’s Ferry. In his enthusiasm, he ignored the sluggish waters of Buffalo Bayou on the left; San Jacinto estuary at the rear; and the marshes of Galveston Bay on the right. No room for maneuvering.

Leading 700 exhausted soldiers, Santa Anna arrived ahead of Houston.
Houston soon came up behind him.

On the twentieth, there were a couple skirmishes. One Texian was killed.

On the twenty-first, General Cos arrived with four hundred men, the second prong of the split, bringing the Mexican force to 1100 against Houston’s reported 783.

Houston knew the third prong with three thousand or so Mexican forces was coming. He ordered Vince’s Bridge destroyed, cutting off Mexican reinforcements and Mexican flight as well as Texian retreat. It was fight or die.

At four o’clock, Houston gave the charge. Eighteen minutes later it was over. They captured the Mexican general the next day.

But, what would have happened if Fannin had obeyed orders and joined Houston at the Colorado? What if Houston had not received that mysterious message on the Brazos? What if Santa Anna had not pursued Burnet? What if he hadn’t split his troops? What possessed him to camp where he did, a spot not even a shavetail lieutenant would have selected?

Reverse any of those decisions, and we might find ourselves in a completely different world today.






rconwell@gt.rr.com

www.kentconwell.blogspot.com

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Play Ball, T-Ball That Is

Play Ball, T-Ball, That Is!

Well, I never thought I would do it. I mean, go to a little league ball game.

To be honest, I always disliked the competitiveness parents forced on their youngster as a means to relive their own youth, to accomplish what they had never achieved.

And don’t tell me I’m wrong about that. Too many parents go nuts at these games, abusing not only the kids, the other parents, the umpires, but the very concept of the activity itself, the ball game, which is supposed to be fun.

Fun! That means kids enjoy it. To heck with the parents and family. Let them keep their mouths shut unless it is to cheer on the little ones. After all, that’s what all of this is supposedly about. Let the kids have fun and learn more about the game.

Our daughters were very active in extra-curricular school programs. To my relief, they never expressed interest in community programs like little league or whatever was available back in the eighties. I would have let them participate probably even though I abhorred the behavior of many parents whose youngsters participated.

Now, my feelings haven’t changed. I still believe these games are for the kids and not the mother who is a repressed cheerleader or the dad who is a frustrated quarterback.

The reason behind all this is the fact my five-year-old grandson, Keegan, started
playing T-Ball.

Don’t ask me to explain the game, because I can’t. It isn’t a game as much as it is an activity to accustom the little gals and guys to a more structured game. And believe me, with five and six-year-olds, it turns out to be more of an activity than a structured game.

Keegan, who has a remarkable attention span of ten seconds, plays for the Astros, a team that practices at Ridgewood Elementary on Merriman Street in Port Neches.

I can’t help admiring the coaches who patiently work with the kids who remind me of a flock of chickens after a single, frantic grasshopper.

Those guys have to have eyes not only the back of their heads, but above each temple and in the forehead.

A couple weeks back, the Astros played their first game. I say a game, but not really a game. Each team of twelve players batted around three times.

The score? Hey, take a guess. Forty-eight, forty-seven; thirty-two, thirty-two. The score wasn’t important. The kids had fun, and they learned a little about the game.
They learned you don’t run to third base when you hit the ball; you run to first.

They learned that a bouncing ball isn’t anywhere as easy to catch as it looks. And they learned you can’t be standing around shooting the breeze with a buddy and still snag a fly ball.

What I like about it is the batters get three balls. If they miss all three, the T-Ball is set up, and they hit it. Everyone gets to hit the ball and run—hopefully to first base, not second or third like one little squirt who cut across the infield from first to third and then home.

I couldn’t help noticing one of their favorite experiences in the game was sliding into a base. They slid even if the ball was still in center field. Some of their efforts were thwarted however when their shoes caught on the base, flipping the little fellows head over heels.

But they all came up laughing and holding up theirs hands signaling they were number one.

Keegan? Well, he did okay. He stopped the ball in the outfield once when it hit him and bounced off. A small guy, he runs hard, but his little legs don't cover a whole lot of ground very fast. His first two hits, he was thrown out at first, but his last time, he made it.

And to our delight and cheers, he, along with the other little ones raced around the bases. When he crossed home plate, he held up his hand, extending his first and last finger and laughing, “LSU”.

The crowd roared.

That’s how it should be.











rconwell@gt.rr.com
www.kentconwell.blogspot.com